Far too often, people with substance abuse problems find themselves in legal trouble. Some critics of the criminal justice system say it’s because we are focused on punishing people rather than treating addiction.
The case of a 36-year-old area man convicted of theft crimes illustrates the point. The man was recently sentenced in Delaware County to serve a minimum of 45 months and a maximum of 10 years in Pennsylvania state prison for thefts of work vans containing tools.
The Upper Darby man said the thefts began when his struggles with heroin addiction resurfaced. He told the judge during the sentencing hearing that he has never been offered help with substance abuse.
Along with an alleged 41-year-old accomplice, the man was accused of stealing 18 work vans and the tools they contained in a series of thefts that began last summer and ended with his October arrest.
Police said the pair hid stolen tools and other equipment inside a Philadelphia building reportedly owned by the accomplice.
The accomplice faces conspiracy and receiving stolen property charges in nearly two dozen cases.
The Upper Darby man was ordered by the judge to pay $217,000 in restitution. He has also been ordered to undergo treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.
According to research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse treatment reduces costs to society for crime victims and incarceration expenses. Perhaps most important, it helps us to avoid much of those future costs as well.
In some situations, a criminal defense attorney can help a client seek the treatment they need and help negotiate appropriate sentencing that takes mitigating circumstances into account.
Source: Delaware County Daily Times, “U.D. man nets prison sentence for work van thefts,” Alex Rose, March 25, 2014